A flat 4.1 km TT results in two Americans setting the best times in the opening stage of this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. This race marks the first appearance of George Hincapie since his crash at Paris-Roubaix. Johan Bruyneel said before the stage, “I’ve got no idea about his form right now.” Heh, heh, yeah right. Of course, Dave Zabriskie got the better on him by just short of 2 seconds, but he’s the TT specialist. Most significantly, the Discovery Team has three in the top ten and now lead the team classification. Our boy Floyd also deserves mention placing in 9th place.
George Hincapie clearly is on a mission here. Others worth watching include Valverde (7th), Horner (40th), and Vinokourov (15th). Sevilla will likely have ‘bad brains’ what with the latest allegations following him around, Vino can probably ignore all that even though his team is in the heart of the scandal. Floyd has lost a big horse with Botero benched as a result of the same investigation. Team CSC is riding high after a fantastic Giro, but I think they’ll look to just do well here and prepare for bigger and better things.
The next two stages should be interesting. Look for some serious hammering from the Disco boys as they test the peleton and protect George. If all goes well, the stage three TT should put George into the lead. Stage 4’s final uphill finish will likely separate the men from the boys. Then it will be a battle of wills in the three hilly stages before the end. I can’t wait for the action.